Do Nice Guys (and Girls) Always Finish Last?

Do mean jerks always come out on top? Not really, but it sure seems that way sometimes. It's enough to make kind, considerate and caring people actually ponder getting a little pushier, more selfish, and more into self-promotion.

You might not want to change those inner good qualities just yet. "The nice person is the one you want to marry and the one that makes the best longterm partner," says Judy Kuriansky, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dating. "It may not happen right away, since it can take awhile for someone to figure out that this is what they want."

It's crucial to define what you mean by "nice" because it doesn't always describe a person who radiates care and goodness. "Nice" can also be a term for someone who is overly solicitous, self-deprecating, passive, and even a little desperate. "Nice" people can call too much and appear to have a low self-esteem. This makes some potential suitors want to steer clear because the person is simply too accessible. And especially for men, when someone is perceived as easy to attain, the thrill of the chase dims.

What to Do

If you are looking for a meaningful relationship, the most important thing is to be true to yourself, says Cheryl Pappas, Ph.D., a relationship expert. Pretending to be someone you're not always backfires in the end, and if you get married without revealing your true self to your mate, the relationship could be troubled.

Listen to your conscience, do what feels right on the inside, and play the dating game with genuine kindness, respect and consideration. You don't have to lose sight of your goal, which, in this case, is to win the heart of the guy or the girl you are interested in.

You don't have to lower yourself to "mean" tactics, however. "Unfortunately the mean mentality is becoming more and more popular," Pappas says. "And that is very concerning. So take a step back and think about what winning really means. It doesn't mean 'killing off' your opponent!"

If you are the "nice" guy or girl who's constantly losing out, it's time for a little self-appraisal and perhaps some rethinking of your philosophy. This may be the time to work on your self-esteem. Tell yourself that you deserve to be treated well. Start to pamper yourself, and tell yourself you are worth it. Once you've built up your self- esteem, it gets easier to meet a great guy, Kuriansky says.

Finding solace in a great relationship can take time and can't be rushed. When you're just starting to get to know a person, you need to be willing to trust - but not be overly trusting, says Dennis Lin, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. A willingness to communicate is also key, he says.

"A lot of people are tempted to rush into marriage and commitments," he says. "It's wiser to wait for the right person. In the end, you will find the perfect partner."